SONATREL, accelerate implementation

Wed, 14 Oct 2015 Source: Lukong Pius Nyuylime

It was certainly with a sigh of relief that Cameroonians received the news of the creation of the new electricity company in charge of managing the transmission of electric energy in the country.

Created by Presidential Decree of October, 08, the National Electricity Transport Company better known by its French language appellation, “Société nationale de Transport de l’électricité-SONATREL”, has as objective to transport electric energy and manage transmission network on behalf of the State. It is a State corporation with the State as the “sole share holder”.

The new company, from all indication and explanation from the Minister of Water Resources and Energy, is created to complement ENEO and not to compete with it. The electricity sector in Cameroon as one would recall has been marked by a medley of hurdles including acute electricity shortage, constant intermittent cuts, load shedding, and poor access to power supply.

Talk of electricity in Cameroon and minds will run to haphazard connections, low quality poles, weak transmitters and dilapidating electric poles. Cases abound where it takes several months for the authorities in charge to repair electric poles that have been eaten up by ants and earthworms.

The situation is worsened by the decision to hand electricity connection to inexperienced and unprofessional groups. In the past, electric poles were treated with high quality chemicals which enabled them to resist decay for decades but today, because of the high thirst for quick cash, inexperience and absence of serious control, just anything in the name of poles is installed in the homes of consumers. The results have been quite catastrophic with ENEO announcing supply vacuums of several kilowatts.

The creation of a company to handle problems related to electric transmission has come just on time especially as the problem of low electricity supply had almost become an emergency for the country. The question on many lips folllowing the creation of the corporation is; what next?

This, of course, is not a rhetorical question considering that several corporations created in the past to resolve urgent problems of this nation have often taken quite a while to effectively see the light of day.

The minister of Water Resources and Energy in an interview with CT tells that the “putting in place of SONATREL will be made progressively and methodically so as to avoid all interruptions and unpleasant services to the public.” This, of course is quite logical for the administration that wants to change things for the betterment of the public.

But the aggressive appetite with which the population is waiting for things to improve in the electricity sector is a translation of the necessity to put the implantation of the corporation on fast tract.

That notwithstanding, it is important to understand that the putting in place of SONATREL requires a lot of reflection considering the intricacies and cobweb already existing in the contract the State signed with ENEO. From the look of things, this contract has to be revisited to ensure that the responsibility of ENEO no longer stretches into the management of electric transmission.

Just last year, ENEO announced it was investing huge amounts of money into electricity transportation. Provided that has been done; what becomes of such economic investment? That apart, it would be important that the setting up of the new structure defines things so clearly so that there shouldn’t be any confusion of responsibilities in case of any problems.

Cameroonians are tired of witnessing such situations where institutions shy away from embracing their responsibilities when problems come up.

As the Ministry in charge of energy tries to work out “progressively and methodically” towards the implementation of the Presidential Decree, it should understand, and from every indication, it has understood, that the population is eager to have permanent electricity supply in its homes and industries.

Auteur: Lukong Pius Nyuylime